Help us make online learning inclusive for women and refugees at Mozfest

Noor is a refugee who came to the UK in 2012. After having her asylum granted, Noor struggled to find the information that she needed to adopt a healthy and happy lifestyle in the UK. Noor didn’t know what her rights in the UK are. She didn’t know that she was able to see a doctor or that a job centre could help her find a job, let alone where to access support for relationship abuse.

It’s women like Noor that we’re hoping to help with Soul Medicine and we’ll be sharing how at our session on bite sized courses at Mozfest on Sunday 29 October 2017, 11am.

Have you ever tried to research how to get a restraining order against a stalker? Or had to prove in court that you’re being abused by your partner? Give it a try. A few minutes on Google (or DuckDuckGoGo!) will show that that this information is hard to find, and what does exist is vague and lacks detail. Imagine how much more difficult it would be for a refugee woman who is not familiar with the UK legal system and doesn’t speak fluent English.

Soul Medicine will be a platform for Chayn and other non-profit organisations to deliver content such as guides, toolkits and courses in small digestible doses via SMS, email and Facebook messenger. A large PDF is not the ideal format for everyone when sharing essential and complicated information, such as how to document abuse, or manage your own finances for the first time.

We believe that breaking down complex information and communicating it in multiple languages, as well as sending it at a time that is suitable to the receiver, makes Soul Medicine a more user-centred learning platform. We’re working on the hypothesis that not only is knowledge helpful for making informed decisions, but it can also bring a bit of cheerfulness to the lives of refugee women, acting as a powerful weapon against depression.

Learn about Soul Medicine: Join our creative (and fun!) session at Mozfest on developing inclusive bite sized courses! Our session is on Sunday at 11 am, level 8 and you can come say hi to us at the Science Fair on Friday!

What’s preventing women from accessing support online?

You might be wondering what barriers stand in the way of women accessing help. A recent study by Safe Lives, Snook & Chayn, commissioned by Comic Relief, found that almost half of the women surveyed in the UK had used technology to connect with other survivors and share their stories. However, the online world also poses a significant threat to women at risk of abuse. We know that 45% of women have experienced some form of online abuse during their relationship, and 48% experienced harassment and online abuse from their ex partner once they’d left their relationship (Women’s Aid, 2014).

Women who are facing abuse and surveillance from partners often have very little time to find what they need and access help. Often women will come across information that is not only hard to find but is also often duplicated while missing key answers. The TechVsAbuse research clearly demonstrated that there is far more work to be done to make the internet safe for women facing abuse, particularly those who face additional barriers such as disability, remote location and lack of fluency in the local language.

That’s why there is a need to build intersectional spaces and resources on the internet, which work for everyone, particularly marginalised communities. We’re thrilled that Chayn has been awarded a grant by Comic Relief, the Big Lottery Fund and HM Government, to develop and grow Soul Medicine. The grant will enable us to invest in platform development and help us figure out a better way to structure our courses and make a bigger impact.

What we’ll be covering at our Mozfest session

Our session is part of the digital inclusion space. What we really hope from the session is that we’ll be able to collect feedback on Soul Medicine from the bright, creative minds at Mozfest, as well as ideas on potential bite sized courses, insight into how we could best design the courses and hopefully even recruit some enthusiastic volunteers to join our squad. We want to share our experience in making the internet inclusive and we’re also looking forward to hearing new ideas from Mozfest attendees!

If you’ll be attending Mozfest, we’re hosting a stall during the Science fair on Friday night and our session will run at 11:00 am on Sunday 29 October 2017, Level 8. Please join us to learn more about our work and how you can contribute to making the internet a safer place for women and other communities at risk of violence.

You can follow the work of Soul Medicine on Twitter.